Portable Light

Empower People.

The Portable Light Project enables people in the developing world to create and own energy harvesting textiles, providing the benefits of renewable power as an integral part of everyday life.

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The Portable Light team is working with the iTEACH Program in Zwa-Zulu Natal and the Massachusetts General Hospital to provide energy harvesting blankets as part of a home care treatment program for rural patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) and HIV. Portable Light home care blankets enables patients to generate power and light for their family during treatment.

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, a co-epidemic of HIV, is a leading cause of death in many communities in South Africa, especially in Kwa Zulu Natal. The numbers of deaths is staggering and it is impossible for many people to come to hospital for treatment. A home-based, MDR TB treatment program and home care kit is being developed by the iTEACH, Program in South Africa, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Portable Light Team.

The sterilizing effect of the sun's UV rays and fresh air can help keep the spread of drug-resistant strains of the disease to a minimum. However, many MDR TB patients and their families face economic hardships that complicate the completion of these treatment programs, among these the lack of blankets for patients to keep warm outdoors and little or no access to electrical power. Lack of hope often further reduces the patient's ability to adhere to lengthy and critical medication and treatment regimes.

The Portable Light iTeach Blanket is designed to help reduce the strain of TB on patients and their family care takers by loaning them a warming blanket that includes integrated flexible solar panels and a detachable textile-integrated LED lantern. Patients who are outdoors during the day are kept warm, and are also able to harvest sunlight to charge the LED lantern and other small devices such as cell phones.

Patients and their families benefit from the Portable Light Blanket throughout the daily routine of home based treatment. The patient benefits by day, using the blanket to stay warm and com-fortable during exposure to fresh air and sunlight. The sun charges the flexible Portable Light solar panels in three hours (1), creating 4 watts of power which is stored in a rechargeable battery. At night, Portable Light provides over 8 hours bright white light which benefits patient and family and greatly facilitates the necessary night time home care treatment regime established by the iTEACH Program. The next day, the Portable Light blanket is re-charged by the patient, who figuratively and literally helps to power his or her own treatment. As an incentive to prevent the rise of drug-resistant strains, patients earn ownership of the blankets upon completion of the treatment program.

More information about iTEACH.



The Portable Light Team is working with Paso Pacifico to train villagers in conservation,enabling local people protect biodiversity in Nicaragua. Portable Light textiles in conservation packs will provide needed employment in remote land bridge areas where endangered turtles come to lay eggs at night.

More information about Paso Pacifico.



With a grant from ArtVenture, the Portable Light team will lead a pilot project in the Sierra to enable women to weave energy harvesting bags using the traditional backstrap loom. The stories of the women and their bags will be documented over the course of the next year - check back often for field reports from team members and users!

More information about ArtVenture.